Well, it's really all about the tart... But let's talk about the party, the mess and the chocolates first. I went to my Gran and Grandfather's house for my Gran's birthday party and even though there is practically zero chance of her finding this (they aren't on the internet!) I'm not going to be the one to divulge her age (and to be honest I'm not 100% certain what that age is). It was a lovely chance to meet up with family and catch up on the gossip, although in reality this means listening to my family's (often rather forthright!) opinions on various subjects. It's good fun though, and to celebrate we had a lovely meal together.
But you can't visit the birthday girl and not take presents, so along with some wine and flowers I thought it would be nice to take chocolates. My Gran likes dark chocolate and inspired by Celia's post here
about making chocolates I thought it would be nice to make an effort rather than just buying a box. I have to confess that I didn't temper my chocolate though (it seems an intimidating thing to do) as I was short of time so my chocolate was slightly dull when it set, but I don't think that it really matters too much. All I did was melt some dark chocolate carefully in the microwave and then spoon little puddles of it onto baking parchment. I added a variety of dried fruit and nuts to each little puddle, allowed it to set then drizzled with a little white chocolate to decorate. I was really pleased with how they turned out and they were easy and fun to do - I can see me doing this again, but more importantly, my Gran was really pleased with them too!
The mess was Eton mess - chopped strawberries, whipped double cream and broken meringue. Super easy and quick to make and I cheated with bought meringue because I have meringue fear and cannot make them..... I think I went a bit light on the strawberries though, but everyone else loved it, even adding extra cream to theirs!
And finally, the chocolate pear crumble tart. I've wanted to make this for ages (well, since it was published here, last September) and I can't remember what reminded me about its existence in the dark recesses of my mind, but when I volunteered to make desserts for the party, this just popped into my head! I followed the recipe fairly well but forgot to chill the pastry (or, more honestly, ran out of time to chill the pastry....) which may well, in combination with my poor pastry making skills, account for the huge shrinkage of my crust. I'm glad I used baking beans to weigh it down though, otherwise I don't think there would have been any space to put the pears in. I must conquer pastry.... Anyway, the pears smelt delicious while they were cooking, and I was seriously tempted to just eat them all on their own, yum, pears in buttery alcoholic caramel sauce..... and even though I probably only used about 600g pears, it was enough to cover the base of my 20cm cake tin. I used the cake tin as my tart tins are all shallow and I didn't want to lose the crumble mixture when I added it on top. I chose a smaller tin after reading Suelle's comments about the tart when she made it, here, and I was pleased because there was quite a lot of shrinkage. I also added a few tbsps water to the crumble mix to make it less crumbly.
Overall, I was pleased with how the tart turned out. The pastry bottom wasn't crisp (but I'm sure that's down to my lack of pastry prowess combined with pear juices) but the combination of pear and chocolate was good. Glad that I made it, very pleased that my Grandfather went back for seconds, but probably not one to repeat!
You've been busy! The chocolates look great - I'm sure your Grandmother appreciates a hand made gift more than bought chocolates. The tart looks OK too - as you know I wasn't very enthusiastic about it, but you've made a pretty good job of it, even if you weren't satisfied with your pastry making.
Sounds like a great party and some fun baking. All of the food sounds and looks amazing! Your chocolates in particular look fantastic, and you're right, it doesn't matter that you didn't temper them.
Wow you've been busy! And I'm sure the Birthday Girl enjoyed her treats. Everything looks amazing, especially the Eton Mess - love Eton Mess ;0)
That tart looks amazing - choc and pear is my all time fave combo! Lucky granny!
My mouth is watering with all these delicious goodies. I am sure your Gran was thrilled.
C, how lucky are your family! :)
Your chocolate mendiants look wonderful, and the tart looks very nice as well, although I personally think whether or not pastry shrinks is more a product of the recipe rather than handling, so don't be too hard on yourself! :)
Suelle - yep, a busy weekend! I think my Gran was really pleased, which pleased me too! I know what you mean about the tart, it was nice but not wow.
Brittany - thanks.
Chele - yes, everyone did love the Eton mess, which is good because it's not something that saves well!
CC - thanks. Choc and pear is a good combo isn't it!
Lucie - thankyou.
Celia - thank you for the inspiration for the chocolates. I'm definitely going to do more chocolate work at some point. I need an excuse to keep practising pastry though - then I'll get to eat more of it ;-)
Chocolates look great. Shame you weren't terribly impressed with the tart cos it looks great and sounds vert tasty.
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